TRUE CRIME: His for the taking



 They were a match made in Internet heaven, trading sexy texts and online messages. The only thing is flirting wasn’t all Tanner Stickney and Rhonda Bays got up to.

He was in Washington DC, she was in Eustis, Florida – and their online chats, they eventually graduated from exchanging sweet-nothings and more provocative comments to talking about sex… Well, of course, all their exchanges were about sex, but this was different. And perhaps ‘talking’ isn’t the right word. Perhaps it’s better to say they began ‘negotiating’.

That is, they began to discuss sex in exchange for money. Not that

Rhonda was a prostitute. The subject of their depraved negotiations was Rhonda’s four-year-old nephew. Tanner was willing to pay Rhonda if she arranged for an ‘encounter’ with the toddler.

They also toyed with the idea of adopting a child purely for sexual purposes. “How young is too young?” asked Bays, suggesting they use children “nobody wants” as “sex slaves”. A six-year-old child would be ideal, because he wouldn’t be able to “give too many details on looks like an older one can,” said Bays.

Incredibly, despite such ‘intimacies’, the two often fought and ‘broke up’, only to get together again. And come the weekend of May 15, 2009, Bays and Stickney were most definitely together again.

But there was a problem. Stickney was all set to visit Bays when she warned him

‘PP’ – the nickname they gave the four-year-old – would be with Bays’ sister. But it was OK, she said – there was a “a replacement”. He was only two, but as Rhonda told Tanner in an SMS, Tanner could pretty much do as he wished. “Nothing harmful tho,” she added, and proceeded to offer some suggestions. Having the child on the bed while she and Stickney had sex was one of the milder ones.

Fortunately, by this time, Rhonda was “talking” to an FBI agent posing as Stickney and using Stickney’s phone and PC. Stickney had been arrested as he got off the plane at Florida’s Orlando International Airport.

The FBI found Tanner Stickney through another paedophile they had arrested. Stickney had told his crony about the visit to Florida. With Stickney in custody – and a huge amount of child porn found in his house and on his computer – the FBI turned its attention to Rhonda Bays. After the agent posing as Stickney confirmed she planned on offering Stickney her four-year-old nephew and a two-year-old when her nephew wasn’t available, Bays was arrested.

Stickney entered into a plea bargain and turned in another child molester in exchange for 15 years in prison. Bays pleaded guilty to charges of producing child pornography and conspiring with another to travel for the purpose of sex with a minor.

Bays, who is herself a mother, “has demonstrated that she is a danger to children,” says the US Attorney’s Office. “She has shown that she is willing to go to any length to appease the whim of a child molester, even ruining the lives of innocent children in her own family.” She was sentenced to 24 years in prison.



I am the Digital Editor for people magazine, having moved from the print issue to manage our online presence. I also write content for both platforms, and am loving every minute of it this onlineadventure! I'm passionate about our brand in all its forms and equally as passionate about making others feel the same way. I love travel, ABBA, entertainment, Maggie Smith, and live by the words: 'The best of times is now. As for tomorrow, well, who knows?'